Close to Playa del Carmen you will find some of the best beaches in Mexico. This city in the Yucatan Peninsula, about one hour south of Cancun, is a favorite tourist destination thanks to its incredible offer of accommodation options, restaurants, nearby attractions and – being as it is right on the Mayan Riviera – incredible beaches where you can spend an entire day relaxing.
If you are looking for the best beaches in Playa del Carmen you are in the right place. Here I select not only the beaches in Playa del Carmen proper, but also a bunch that are within easy reach from this fun town.
Continue reading to pick the ones to visit.
14 Best Beaches In Playa Del Carmen
Parque Los Fundadores
Parque Los Fundadores is the most well known beach in Playa del Carmen – partly because so many photos are taken of it. The park, dedicated to the city’s founders, is marked by an iconic archway, with intriguing sculptures strewn throughout.
It’s a very popular beach, with a mix of tourists and locals visiting to relax and kick back by the sea throughout the year. Because of this, it can get pretty busy. But it’s quite a wide beach, so there’s usually room to find a place on the sand to lay down your towel and enjoy some sunshine.
Thanks to its family-friendly credentials – i.e. there are no rowdy beach clubs – this Playa del Carmen beach is a good spot to enjoy laid-back beach games (volleyball, for example). There’s a roped-off swimming area and lifeguards.
For when you get hungry, there are a selection of small bars and restaurants along Parque Los Fundadores to refuel after a day of sun, sea and sand. All of this makes it one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.
Set in an upmarket area of Playa del Carmen, complete with golf clubs and all-inclusive resorts, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Playacar is a private beach. But nope: it’s open for the public to enjoy.
However, because of its location close to all this luxury – including a gated community – the beach itself is clean and quiet. Boasting beautiful white sand and lacking rocks and litter (even the notorious seaweed is less of a problem here), it’s definitely one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.
Some visitors may be put off by having to go through a security gate on their way to the beach. But simply pass through and you’ll find a path leading through some trees and out onto the beach. Unlike other beaches in Playa del Carmen, there are palm trees at Playacar, so you can find some shade without having to pay for a parasol.
This long stretch of gorgeous sand curves along the coast and feels completely deserted compared to other beaches in the area. Located near Cenote Azul, this lesser known beach is actually around 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen (towards Tulum), but if you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten track, this is it.
You will have to pay to enter the beach. It costs MXN 40 (around $2 USD) per person to gain access to this veritable coastal paradise.
Once you’re there you can enjoy the calm of this less developed beach. There’s one eatery and one beach club where you can pay for services like parasols.
One particularly good thing about Xpu Ha is the calm water that makes it great for snorkeling, and for families who want to splash around in the shallows. Make sure you stay for sunset: they’re particularly nice from this beach.
Playa Punta Esmeralda
Playa Punta Esmeralda is a picturesque slice of paradise, and easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Playa del Carmen. Located close to the Paradisus Hotels, this slice of sand is easy to access from the center of town, and features parking and other facilities for visitors to use.
One of the coolest things about this beach is the fact that it’s backed by a lagoon-like cenote that empties out into the sea. It’s super shallow and makes for the ideal spot to lounge around, and is particularly fun for children to play in.
Another nice thing about Playa Punta Esmeralda is how local it is. In the evenings, or at the weekends, you can expect local families and friends enjoying some downtime at the beach.
If you’ve forgotten to bring snacks for your beach day, don’t worry: there’s usually at least one food vendor selling bites and refreshments.
Another local spot in Playa del Carmen, Coco Beach feels like an authentic place to chill with your feet in the sand. Unlike Playa Punta Esmeralda, it’s never overly busy, but is still a beautiful stretch of sand.
Close by you’ll find the all-inclusive The Reef Coco Beach Hotel Resort, which is where most people seem to be hanging out (obviously). So the further from the resort you go, the fewer people you’ll see – in fact, go far enough, and you’ll have no development behind you at all: just jungle.
Though the resort is there, all you have to do is walk around the resort (not through it) to get to the beach. The only downside is that because it’s not in a developed part of town, there’s no one to clean up the seaweed that haunts this part of the coast.
Situated 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from Downtown Playa del Carmen, Playa Maroma is a very well developed beach with a whole range of facilities and services at your disposal. Think lifeguards, clean seaweed-free sand, and beach volleyball courts. It’s easy to see why many people think this is one of the best beaches in Playa del Carmen.
It’s not just about the facilities though – the beach itself is wide and flat, with sand that slopes gently into the crystal clear waters. And despite it being popular, it’s large enough that you will be able to find a sun lounger, or at least somewhere to put your towel on the sand.
Playa Maroma is a great beach for those looking to get active. Here you can rent jet skis, head out on a catamaran, go snorkeling or get involved in other water sports. In terms of other facilities, there’s also a restaurant and a beach club.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a cenote a stone’s throw from the beach, too!
Playa Akumal not in Playa del Carmen proper. In fact, it is located south of Playa del Carmen. Specifically, it’s around half an hour’s drive away, but don’t let the distance put you off. It’s an ideal spot for a day trip – even more so if you’ve got your own car, which makes it even easier to get to.
This relaxing beachfront community is dotted with attractive homes, as well as a handful of eateries and restaurants. But most famously, Playa Akumal is known for its sea turtles, who swim around and feed in the sea just offshore, and hatch on the beach itself.
The presence of turtles has made this beach a very popular spot for those who want to catch a glimpse of these marine creatures. Unfortunately, however, the popularity has also put pressure on the turtle population and their fragile habitat; so in 2016, Akumal Bay was declared a nature refuge and to see the turtles you now have to join a guided snorkeling tour.
Yal Ku Lagoon
If you’re looking for something a little bit different – somewhere that isn’t your typical beach – then you may want to consider taking a trip to the Yal Ku Lagoon. An idyllic place to spend the day by the sea, this scenic spot is situated just 20 minutes to the south of Playa del Carmen, on the way to Akumal.
The lagoon is actually an inlet, making it a mix of salt and freshwater. The waters here are brilliantly turquoise, and calm, which means it’s a great spot for snorkeling and swimming. Here you’ll glimpse tropical fish, turtles and even manta rays!
It’s a protected area, so you’ll have to pay to enter (around MXN 270 – that’s $13 USD; lockers cost MXN 50 – $2.50 USD). You’re not allowed to bring food or drink from outside, either, and – again – reef-safe sunscreen is required. Facilities include a snack bar, as well as showers, changing rooms, lockers and a snorkel rental store.
Playa Mamitas is a particularly busy beach. It’s not somewhere to go if you’re looking for a tranquil place, but if you’re looking for energy and fun, there’s no better beach in Playa del Carmen. Expect music playing out of its collection of beach clubs, bars, restaurants, and crowds of people.
Located around a 10 minute walk from the main ferry pier in town, Playa Mamitas is easy to reach on foot. And even though it’s busy, you’ll usually be able to find a sun lounger, which generally also comes with waiter service!
Another bonus of this popular beach is that it’s free to access. Even though it can get very busy, and quite rowdy, families still use the beach. And depending on the time of year, i.e. when it’s not high season, the beach won’t be super busy, either.
Located in a residential area that’s also home to a selection of small restaurants and stores, Colosio Beach is a laid-back local spot for beach fun. It’s never too busy here any day of the week. You won’t find any beach clubs or partygoers here – just people wanting to enjoy their time off.
Colosio Beach is separated from the local neighborhood by a stretch of mangrove swamp, which makes the beach feel very natural. Maybe because of this, and the residential location of the beach, it’s not very touristed at all (that doesn’t mean it’s not safe though).
It’s easy to reach from Downtown Playa del Carmen. Simply walk along Calle 38 and eventually you’ll come to the beach.
North of Playa del Carmen – not in town per se – Playa Paamul is a quiet beach boasting gleaming white sand and turquoise waters. It’s a dreamy spot to lounge around all day, but not exactly close to the center of town; however, it can be reached either by car or public transport in around 20 minutes.
When you arrive you’ll discover palm trees and sun loungers away from the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen. Here you can spend the whole day sunbathing, snorkeling and relaxing in your sun lounger.
If you want to do some adventuring, then take a stroll along the beach here and you’ll find some beautiful views out over the sea. Or if you want to enjoy a long lunch, head to the restaurant at the entrance to the beach, where you can dine on fresh seafood in the open air.
Calle 10 Beach
If you’re in Playa del Carmen for a spot of luxury and some relaxation, then you should definitely make sure to spend a day at one of the beach clubs on Calle 10 Beach. It’s not the most beautiful beach in the area; instead, this place is all about its cool beach clubs.
One of the best is the very hip Zenzi, but there’s also El Pirata, or Indio. All of these have a minimum spend to use the facilities (usually starting at MXN 400, which is around $20 USD), which normally include parasols and sunbeds, showers and often even a light lunch. So the best thing to do is to stroll along the beach, find a club you like the look of, and then ask them about their prices.
Separate from the crowds and the music of Playa del Carmen, Xcacel is something of a natural paradise. You’ll find it located 30 miles (48 km) to the south (around a 40 minute drive) of Playa del Carmen. Xcacel is home to a turtle of the same name; between April and October, green sea turtles and loggerhead turtles nest along the sand here.
As a bonus, close to the beach is Cenote Xcacelito. Reached via a wooden boardwalk along the sand, this cenote is surrounded by jungle and lush nature, and is a refreshing spot to swim out of the sun.
To protect the natural environment, visiting Xcacel means you can only use reef-safe sunscreen. It costs MXN 20 (just $1 USD) per person to enter the beach, with money going to the protection and conservation of the sea turtles.
Puerto Morelos Beaches
You’ll notice from the title of this one, but Puerto Morelos actually involves more than one beach. It’s actually a small coastal town that’s home to a handful of public beaches, all of which are quiet and well maintained.
The town itself – situated around 30 minutes’ drive from Playa del Carmen – has everything you’ll need for a day out at the beach. There’s parking, small eateries and shops. Puerto Morelos is a lesser known place and something of a hidden gem away from the big resorts along the Mexican Riviera. The sea here is gleaming turquoise – simply take your pick of beach and enjoy!
For more ideas about your Playa del Carmen vacation, make sure to read these posts:
- The Best Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Day Trips From Playa Del Carmen
- The Best Cenotes Near Playa Del Carmen
- Is Playa Del Carmen Safe For Tourists?
- Where To Stay In Playa Del Carmen
- How To Get From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen